GAP (short for “good agricultural practices) certification is a USDA audit program through which producers can demonstrate their compliance with food safety requirements to purchasers and retailers. Historically, GAP certification has been out of reach for many small and mid-sized farms and beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers because of the price. GITCHIA provides a long-awaited alternative option, wherein grower groups, farmer coops, and food collaborative can share the certification cost by pooling together.
Under the traditional USDA GAP model, each farm is audited individually for compliance with industry-recognized food safety standards. Under the GITCHIA model, a group of farmers can come together and collaboratively develop a quality management system through a central organizing entity, like a producer cooperative or food hub, which serves as an intermediary between the farmers and institutional or wholesale buyers. Through the central entity, qualified individuals internally audit the participating farms. AMS’s role in Group GAP is to audit both the group quality management system a well as directly auditing a percentage of the farms at random.
For farmers and growers alike, group certification provides access to a myriad of benefits. By working in a collective, farmers have expanded opportunities for peer learning and training, collectively share risk, equipment, and other knowledge resources, and can gain access to new markets. In turn, GITCHIA benefits buyers by aggregating groups of producers through a central entity. This helps buyers to meet growing consumer demand for food with verifiable commitments to food safety and growing standards by pooling broad bases of local producers who meet those standards.
Producers have typically sought GAP certification in order to access markets where such certification is required. Today, growers are under added market pressure to obtain food safety certifications because of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)’s new food safety rules; established through the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). FDA has made it clear that while audits are not required under the new rules, private audits will nevertheless play a role in FDA’s compliance strategy for the new food safety rule for produce farmers.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) has long cautioned against FDA’s outsized reliance on third party audits as indicators of compliance. Such audits often represent significant costs and burdens to smaller farms, which is why FSMA explicitly prohibits FDA from requiring farmers to pay for audits to verify compliance with the rules. While NSAC remains in opposition to any de facto regulatory requirement that farmers pay for auditing as part of their food safety requirements, we do applaud the emergence of GITCHIA as a strong alternative option for farmers seeking food safety certifications. We would encourage farmer cooperatives, food hubs, and other similar collaborative growing arrangements to consider this option.
We are also pleased that AMS is currently working with FDA on a joint GAP review project, which will review the alignment of the USDA GAP program (including GITCHIA) to FSMA’s requirements. Following review, USDA GAP and GITCHIA would undergo any necessary modifications so that they provide at least the same baseline requirements as FSMA. These revisions are expected to be in place before the final compliance implementation date in the FSMA Produce Rule.
GLOBALG.A.P. offers you one core product: GLOBALG.A.P. Certification , available for 3 scopes of production: Crops, Livestock, Aquaculture and consisting of a total of more than 40 standards. You also have the option for a stepwise approach through local G.A.P. , which helps you prepare for GLOBALG.A.P. Certification and provides you easier access to local markets.
If you are looking to upgrade your existing GLOBALG.A.P. Certificate to demonstrate your commitment to advancing Good Agricultural Practice to your retailers and buyers, GLOBAL G.A.P offers you voluntary add-on modules to enhance the core product and adapt it better to your environment.
GITCHIA is accredited to conduct GLOBALG.A.P. audits for any producer of primary agricultural products including fruits and vegetables, combinable crops, and hops. GITCHIA is also approved to conduct the Tesco module, which is now an add on to GLOBALG.A.P.’s Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) standard
GITCHIA offers certification to the Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) Standard, Harmonized Produce Safety Standard (HPSS), and Produce Safety Standard (PSS). The following certification options apply to all standards.
Option 1: Certification for Single Site and Multi-site – For individual producers of single-site or multi-site operations with or without an implemented Quality Management System (QMS).
Option 2: Group Certification – for small producers seeking recognition under one group certificate, and for multi-site operations operating under a unified QMS and internal auditing procedure.
GLOBAL GAP Integrated Farm Assurance is a globally harmonized scheme for Good Agricultural Practices with food safety and environmental components. GITCHIA certifies to the Integrated Farm Assurance (IFA) Standard for Fruits and Vegetables and approved for Combinable Crops, Hops, and Tesco. The scheme consists of the following control points and compliance criteria.
Food safety, Food traceability, Environmental sustainability (including biodiversity), Worker operational health and safety. Members can choose add-ons to further differentiate their operations.
GLOBALG.A.P. Harmonized Produce Safety Standard is a subset of IFA, covering food safety and food traceability essentials for fruits and vegetables. HPSS is similar to GAP audits in the US market and is GFSI.
GITCHIA can walk you through a pre-assessment process. Pre-assessment is a non-scored mock audit designed to assess the level of your preparedness for a certification audit. Ask about combining a pre-assessment with your initial audit for greater efficiency.
In addition to GLOBALG.A.P. certification, GITCHIA offers a full suite of food safety and food quality testing and certification services to help you satisfy customer requests. Combine GLOBALG.A.P. Certification with Organic Certification, Certified Sustainably Grown or Fair Trade Certification, for added operational and cost efficiency.
The Gluten-Free Certification Program (GFCP) is designed for retailers, manufacturers, food service providers and farmers obliged to conform to various government regulations and/or the Codex Alimentarius gluten-free science based guidelines. Delivered by third-party ISO/IEC 17021-1 IDA accredited certifying bodies, GFCP is a non-prescriptive HACCP-based standard that is endorsed by the leading North American celiac organizations and administered by the Allergen Control Group.
The Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO) certifies many thousands of products. It is a voluntary program developed in 2005 by the Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG) of North America, a non-profit association funded by private donations. Targeting retailers, manufacturers and farmers, GFCO uses quality assessment and control measures to assure consumers that their food is safe. Certification involves risk assessments, plant audits and equipment and product testing, at the plant and at the point of consumer purchase. Finished products bearing the GFCO logo must contain 10 ppm or less of gluten.
Our gluten-free program provides credible, verified and science-based gluten-free certification with a label consumers can trust. The program demonstrates compliance to FDA gluten-free labeling guidelines and provides additional assurance to consumers through facility inspection and testing.
Why Gluten-Free Certification for Your Organization
Gluten-free certification is a process designed to protect consumers with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders by confirming that a food, drink or supplement meets strict standards for gluten-free safety. It assures consumers that there is third-party oversight confirming the legitimacy of the manufacturer’s gluten-free processes and claims. There are several certifying owners that offer gluten-free certification, and each has its own criteria to ensure safety for consumers.
In the grocery store, certification seals hopefully make it easier to identify safe and trusted products. Products that have been certified gluten-free will typically bear a symbol on the label, so customers with celiac disease and other gluten-related disorders can quickly and easily recognize the symbol and know that the product has earned approval.
GITCHIA Endorses Gluten-Free Certification Program
GITCHIA endorses the Gluten-Free Certification Program ,a food safety-based gluten management system for manufacturers, which was created by the Allergen Control Group. GITCHIA has brought this system to the UK. As the food industry becomes increasingly globalized, GITCHIA believes that international certifications such as this Gluten-Free Certification will play a critical role in ensuring that our gluten-free food supply is truly safe and trusted.
The GFCP is a management system and facility-based certification. This means that the program does not rely solely on product testing to ensure safety, but examines the entire practices and production process of the facility – from ingredient sourcing to employee training, cleaning practices, cross-contact controls, operational management and, finally, an effective end-to-end testing plan.
The GFCP approves only those facilities that continually meet strict, good manufacturing practices for gluten-free production. Certification audits are conducted annually by trained and approved, independent International Standard for Organization (ISO) and third-party accredited auditing companies. Products manufactured in facilities that have earned GFCP certification may bear a clear and easy-to-recognize certification trademark from the GFCP and endorsed by GITCHIA, on their packaging.
By having qualified third-party professionals involved in each major step of the certification process, the GFCP supports a system of checks and balances eliminating any potential for conflict of interest between the manufacturer’s relationship with and the program, its certifying bodies and/or GITCHIA.
Organic certification is a certification process for producers of organic food and other organic agricultural products. In general, any business directly involved in food production can be certified, including seed suppliers, farmers, food processors, retailers and restaurants.
STEP 1: Develop an organic system plan.
The organic system plan is the foundation of the organic certification process. Created by the producer or handler seeking certification, it details how an operation will comply with the regulations based on its unique characteristics.
While plans differ based on operation type and needs, they address all practices of the farming or handling systems, such as tilling, grazing, harvesting, storing and transporting. They also specify approved substances used during the growing or handling process, monitoring practices for organic systems, recordkeeping systems, and barriers that prevent commingling with nonorganic products or contact with prohibited substances.
STEP 2: Implement the organic system plan:
Have it reviewed by a certifying agent. Organic operations are certified by private, foreign or State entities that have been accredited by USDA. These entities are called certifying agents and are located throughout the United States and around the world. Certifying agents are responsible for ensuring that organic products meet all organic standards.
STEP 3: Receive inspection:
Every operation that applies for organic certification is first inspected on site by a certifying agent. These comprehensive top-to-bottom inspections differ in scope depending on the farm or facility. For example, for crops they include inspection of fields, soil conditions, crop health, approaches to management of weeds and other crop pests, water systems, storage areas and equipment. For livestock, they include inspection of feed production and purchase records, feed rations, animal living conditions, preventative health management practices (e.g., vaccinations), health records, and the number and condition of animals present on the farm. At a handling or processing facility, an inspector evaluates the receiving, processing, and storage areas used for organic ingredients and finished products.
STEP 4: Have a certifying agent review the inspection report:
The inspector presents findings to the certifying agent following observation of practices on the farm or facility as they compare to the organic system plan. In addition to the inspection points mentioned above, the inspector also presents an assessment of the risk of contamination from prohibited materials and might even take soil, tissue or product samples as needed. The inspector also analyzes potential hazards and critical control points and makes sure procedures to prevent contamination are adequate. From there all findings are presented the certifying agent for review.
STEP 5: Receive a decision from the certifier:
If an operation complies with the rules, the certifying agent issues an organic certificate listing products that can be sold as organic from that operation. The organic farm or facility continues to update its plan as it modifies its practices, and an inspection is done at least once a year to maintain certification.